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The APS cheating scandal will become subject of movie with Michael B. Jordan

The Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal will become the subject of a movie.

Still in the early stages, "Wrong Answer" will involve actor Michael B. Jordan  ("Fruitvale Station," "Fantastic Four," "The Wire," and the upcoming new movie, "Creed,") and director Ryan Coogler ("Fruitvale Station," "Creed" ).

I assume the focus of the movie will be the moral struggles and ethical conflicts of an individual teacher who, faced with impossible test score targets, resorts to cheating.

It is likely based on a 2014 magazine story of the same title.

"Wrong Answer," a dramatic New Yorker magazine profile, described the fall of Damany Lewis, a math teacher at Parks Middle School, which was ground zero for cheating.

"We were told that failure was not an option, " said  Lewis during a hearing in March 2012. When that hearing ended, Lewis became the first Atlanta teacher fired as a result of the test-cheating scandal.

As the AJC reported out of that hearing in 2012:

An emotional Lewis testified Wednesday about the pressure he and other teachers were under to improve scores at the school, which faced takeover for not meeting testing goals. After (principal) Waller's first year at the school (when the report said cheating began), he said Parks won praise from visitors for its teaching and learning and day-to-day operations.

But the demand for more increased.

"Every day, every teacher at Parks worked hard. Every day, teachers came early and stayed late, " Lewis said. "Everything was data-driven. Data was the primary source of behind-the-scenes pressure on individuals who really cared about the school the most."

I doubt the movie will focus on the role The Atlanta Journal Constitution investigative team played in bringing the scandal to light.

But I would suggest Keira Knightley play intrepid AJC reporter Heather Vogell , now with ProPublica, Ed Harris play unflappable AJC reporter Alan Judd and Edward Norton portray AJC database reporting master John Perry.


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About the Author

Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.